Sound — 7
For their fifth album, As I Lay Dying, who've cycled through over 20 members during their existence, are an exercise in consistency. The band isn't attempting any guitar acrobatics or gymnastics, even though there are some shreddy guitar blasts that are present on The Powerless Rise. The band does what it has always done well: manufacture breakdowns, scream bloody murder, toss a melodic chorus into the mix and keep the knobs cranked to 11 at all times. While one might hope for AILD to take a left turn here or experiment there, the band stays the course. "Anodyne Sea" and "Parallels" are the album's most potent punches to the face, with the former boasting a Killswitch Engage-like chorus and a mid-tempo middle part that feels quite artsy when played loud. The strongest point of the album and the band's sound is the guitar work of Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso, which meshes well with Tim Lambesis' growls. "Without Conclusion" doesn't take any sharp veer to the left, but if you like to run on a treadmill or do cardio, then you should get this loaded onto your iPod, yesterday. The same goes for "Anger and Apathy," which also has a quirky guitar-centric opening before it launches into a full-bore assault of 'core.
Lyrics — 8
Lambesis has a very hardcore style of lyric writing. That is, he adheres to a positive bend, says things that make you think and that have some thought behind them. He could easily front a hardcore band, thanks to the sentiments in his lyrics. One of the album's most memorable moments is the clean chorus and harmony on "Anger and Apathy," which is the cleanest vocal I've ever heard on an AILD record, so it's refreshing to see them going that route. These parts are almost "eem" in scope, without being whiny or lacking balls.
Overall Impression — 7
This is a solid album for As I Lay Dying fans; it delivers exactly what you'd expect it to without suckerpunching you with any sort of surprise. While this deep into an impressive career the band consistently scans over 150,000 records- one might wonder why the band hasn't made a stylistic leap of faith, but there's also something to be said for sonic stability and being the port in the storm that people know will always be there when the ship comes in, so to speak and to slightly mix a metaphor. The band may have had a bunch of different lineups but the songs remain the same: quality, moshy metalcore. Turn it up.